Check homes are fire safe when putting clocks forward, firefighters urge

Firefighters want people to ensure smoke alarms are in working order and to complete an online Home Fire Risk Check, a short questionnaire which highlights fire hazards; helps people identify them and gives participants information about what to do should a fire occur.

Statistics show that residents are four times more likely to die in a house fire if a working smoking alarm is not installed and that around half of people who have a smoke alarm do not test it on a weekly basis.

Tips for smoke alarm maintenance:

  • Get into the Test is Tuesday routine by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds once a week
  • Twice a year open the case and gently vacuum the inside to remove dust from the sensor. If it doesn't open, vacuum through the holes
  • If the alarm ever starts to 'chirp' regularly, replace the battery as soon as possible
  • Once a year change the battery (unless it is a 10-year alarm)
  • After 10 years it's best to replace your smoke alarm with a whole new unit

Get into a routine

David Heycock, Home, Road and Community Safety Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Everybody will be adjusting their clocks forward an hour when British Summertime begins - I would also like to see people checking their smoke alarms at the same time and also taking the opportunity to complete a Home Fire Risk Check, to find out more about potential fire hazards in the home.

“It is also the perfect opportunity to get into the Test it Tuesday routine of testing their smoke alarms once a week. You could lose more than sleep if you don’t have a working smoke alarm. It could buy you and your family the valuable time you need to get out, stay out and call 999.

“Smoke alarms are the easiest way to alert everyone in the house to the danger of fire, giving precious time for you and your loved ones to escape. They are reasonably priced, readily available from most DIY stores, easy to fit and one day it could save your life.”

“This is also great chance to test the smoke alarm for older relatives, friends or neighbours who might find it hard to reach their alarms.”

"Doing so could help make families safer as it will inform people of what the current fire risk situation is in their properties. I would also encourage householders to get into a weekly routine of monitoring whether smoke alarms are working correctly."

Could be difference between life and death

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who also has Cabinet responsibility for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "I would encourage people to take note of this important home safety advice from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Ensuring a smoke alarm is working could be the difference between life and death if a fire does occur as it can buy people valuable time to get out, stay out and then call 999."

People can call 08000 325999 for a free paper copy of the Home Fire Risk Check or if they are concerned about the outcomes of the check once they have completed it.

The hour is lost when clocks go forward at 1am on Sunday 29 March.


The advice is part of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's 365alive campaign, an initiative designed to make the county a safer place through educational and preventative community work.